Yesterday the players of the National Hockey League collectively decided that they were not playing last night’s games, nor any of the games that were scheduled to be played today. The decision came after they previously failed to join athletes from across other sports, starting with the NBA’s Bucks and and Magic, in their August 26th wildcat strike in protest of the attempted murder of Jacob Blake by the Kenosha police.
Instead, it wasn’t until the day after, August 27th, amongst growing criticism and backlash from fans and commentators, that news began to emerge of a potential suspension of games within the NHL. While there was a lot of initial confusion in the reporting of where the impetus for the suspension of play was coming from, it was eventually clarified that the decision was driven by the players themselves, something that both Nazem Kadri and Evander Kane emphasized on twitter. The NHL and NHLPA’s joint statement in the evening formalized the decision, putting the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs on hold for at least two days.
Both conferences held media availabilities following the announcement, with the Western conference – where the player-led push to suspend play originated – making a powerful visual statement by having players from all four teams join together behind the mics, with Ryan Reaves, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Nazem Kadri, Jason Dickinson, and Bo Horvat speaking on behalf of their respective teams.
Powerful stuff from Ryan Reaves here pic.twitter.com/iXBcDMkY6H— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) August 27, 2020
The Eastern conference’s media availability on the other hand, looked a bit different.
The player reps in the Eastern Conference: pic.twitter.com/XxaewvHmgG— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) August 27, 2020
The teams acknowledged that the movement to not play yesterday originated with the Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights.
Kevin Shattenkirk said the players on Vancouver and Vegas initiated this protest. The opportunity to speak with Ryan Reaves and other players spearheading diversity initiatives opened up possibility of postponing games.— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) August 27, 2020
Ryan Reaves said he woke up to texts from Kevin Shattenkirk and players in the East wanting to talk and then Vancouver players: "That was more powerful. The conversation started with white players on other teams wanting to talk."— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) August 27, 2020
Kevin Shattenkirk said team talked last night, in morning, talking w/ players in other hub. Became unified: "Any black player in this league, any black player who is a kid coming up playing hockey can feel like they have a voice that the NHL and the sport itself is a safe place"— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) August 27, 2020
Bo Horvat: "We met as a group and went over to Vegas and met as a group there and thought this was going to be the best form of action to take."— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) August 27, 2020
Zdeno Chara:— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) August 27, 2020
"These days need to be used in the right manner. We need to step back, reflect ... There is a problem. ...There's a reason why all the major sports are doing what they're doing right now."
Nazem Kadri: "Moving forward, it’s going to have to be the whole league. Collectively. Not just one or two guys."— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) August 27, 2020
“For the first time ever, players of colour have leverage and we have power in our game, and I think it’s important to use that in a positive manner to bring about real change.”— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 27, 2020
- @Dreamer_Aliu78 on how @TheOfficialHDA is using their platform. #TheConversation pic.twitter.com/iHbzRpGqKu
The plan is for the Hockey Diversity Alliance to have more dialogue with players in the bubble Friday. Players want to further educate themselves.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) August 27, 2020
Some of the teams also put out their own statements. In absolutely no particular order:
Statement from the Vegas Golden Knights and our players pic.twitter.com/WVvhtnS8Q1— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) August 27, 2020
The Toronto Maple Leafs also put out their own statement: